Scottish patients sought for lung cancer blood test trial

Lung cancer cell dividing
Image caption The blood test could detect the development of lung cancer at an earlier stage

People at highest risk of lung cancer, such as smokers, have been urged to take part in a trial of a new blood test which could detect the disease at an earlier stage.

The test is being offered to patients by the NHS in Tayside and Glasgow.

It identifies levels of substances in the blood known as autoantibodies, which the body produces when cancer develops.

Sixty patients in Scotland were the first in the UK to trial the test.

Researchers have said it could mean lung cancer is detected months or even years earlier than it would otherwise be diagnosed.

Up to 10,000 people will be invited to take part in the study, with half of those who sign up randomly selected to take the test.

Scientists will then track what happens to everyone in the study for ten years.

Early detection

People with increased levels of autoantibodies will be referred for an chest x-ray and CT scan to find out whether they have cancer, and offered NHS treatment and support if they do.

The Scottish government aims to increase the early detection of cancer by 25% and has said the test could be rolled out across Scotland if successful.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "By diagnosing lung cancer at its earliest possible stage, we stand a better chance of being able to treat it successfully, using less aggressive treatments and improving life expectancy.

"If the trial demonstrates better outcomes for those who are tested it will provide good evidence that a population screening programme would be beneficial.

"I would encourage people who are invited to take part in the study to do so as it is important that we have sufficient people involved to make the results valid."

Retired police officer Bill Culbard, 70, was diagnosed with advanced and inoperable lung cancer in 2000 and is backing the study.

He made a good recovery after nine months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow.

'Share stories'

"I am hopeful that this screening trial will improve early detection," he said.

"I know having been a smoker most of my adult life that I was slow to go to the doctor with a recurring cough and sore throat. I knew at the back of my mind about lung cancer but I didn't expect it to happen to me.

"Hopefully screening and more awareness about paying attention and going to your GP will mean more people with lung cancer can share their stories 13 years on."

Lung cancer kills more people than any other cancer and Scotland is said to have one of the highest rates of the disease in the world, with fewer than 9% of patients still alive five years after diagnosis.

The study is co-funded by the Scottish government and Oncimmune, the company that developed the EarlyCDT-Lung blood test.

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